Jump to Navigation
LOBP is now in archive mode... read more at leagueofbikepolo.com/goodbye.

New to Bike Polo-Need a bike

I am new to the sport of bike polo and I need some advice on what kind of a bike I should have. I have been riding a 7 gear Trek Alpha 1.1 road bike with a carbon frame and what I've heard is that a non carbon fixed gear bike along with wheel covers. What kind of pedals are usually used? Handlebar style? Who makes the most affordable and highest quality fixed gear bikes? Jamis? Masi? Surly? Any constructive advice would be most appreciated.

Most don't play on fixed gear bikes. A freewheel is easier to learn/play on (in most cases).
If you have the money and you're sure you're going to be playing bike polo for a while, you probably want to look at the Milwaukee Polo Bruiser and the Fleetvelo Joust.

MKE Polo Bruiser (700c wheels)

Fleetvelo Joust (26" wheels)

There are several other manufacturers out there, so your options are not limited to these two - but these are probably the two most popular polo bikes.
If you're not looking to spend that kind of dough, just get something used and build it up to suit your style/needs. Pick a nice easy gear ratio so you can accelerate quickly - polo involves a lot of quick stops and quick starts. You want some handlebars that are easy to reach over and around with your mallet (not too wide, not too tall). You want some tough wheels, and yes wheelcovers can be helpful in prolonging the life of your wheels.
You'll also need a mallet and some gloves and a helmet. Other pads are optional, but knee pads and shin guards aren't a bad idea. Pads and gloves can be bought used if you have a "Play It Again Sports" or similar in your area. Mallets can be built from ski poles and gas pipe on the cheap, but if you can spare $30 it's better to just get the real deal..

There's a lot to learn. Lots of options. Do your homework, get a bike/ball/mallet, find a nice flat smooth surface and practice handling the ball without having to look down at it the whole time. Get comfortable with your bike. Don't worry too much about developing a hard slapshot - work on making slow solid contact with the ball - learn to be accurate with your shots and passes. If you're right handed, make sure you work on handling the ball while it's on the left side of the bike (reaching over the bike with your mallet while maintaining control of the bike and the ball). Also work on staying on your bike - keep your feet off the ground.

I'm still a newbie myself but that's some of the stuff I would have told myself when I was first starting out..
Oh, above all, have fun. Smile. Enjoy yourself. Don't work so hard at being good that you forget to have fun along the way.

Yeah, definitely do not try playing on fixed gear. The only reason to even consider doing that is if you are already extremely comfortable on fixed gear, much moreso than simply riding one to get around. You need to be "hopping while doing backward circles" comfortable to make fixed gear worth it.

Stretch covered the top end of the spectrum (Joust and Bruiser), if you've got a thousand bucks to spend on a polo bike.

If you don't: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Mongoose-Detain-700cc-Men-s-Street-Bike/15711162

It has 48 spokes, and the curved seat tube for a (theoretically) shorter chainstay. I know people have talked about getting them as a starter polo bike, but I don't know if anyone actually has done it.

I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work - one of the guys here in DC has been playing on a Thruster (with a few choice component changes) and he throws that thing around with great effectiveness. I'm sure the brakes are awful, but that is why it is $200. If you come to polo for a while and seem like you are going to stick around, I'm willing to bet someone in the club has a dual lever or something they're going to be willing to sell you for a good price.

Legalize Hand Throws - 2014

If you need/want to go the less expensive route.. you can play polo on almost any bike you want. Things to look for in a cheap used polo bike..

V-brake posts - most polo bikes are setup for v-brakes (or disc brakes are even better, but that's getting pretty fancy for a newbie bike)

Rear dropouts - track ends are ideal, especially if you want to have a flip/street gear. if you want to play on a singlespeed bike, your rear dropouts are going to need to be mostly horizontal (or at least diagonal). vertical dropouts will not allow you to adjust chain tension without the use of a tensioner, etc.

For my beginner bike, I found a very cheap "hybrid" frame on Craigslist for $50. It was a KHS Brentwood. It was great because it was my size (just a little too small, which is not always a bad thing for polo) and had v-brake posts. It was however, heavy as shit and I later found that the serial number had been ground off so it was probably stolen at some point.
I could have played on it as it was, but I chose to upgrade the cranks and wheels. I found a $30 singlespeed wheelset and a $30 crankset on Craigslist. I also grabbed a $12 Problem Solvers dual brake lever (new) and a $5 straight handlebar (used).
So yeah, it can be done on the cheap if you wish. Just might take more time and a bit of luck.

You asked about pedals and handlebars.. the answer to both is mainly whatever suits you best.
Some of the best polo players I've seen use simple platform pedals, while others prefer Time ATAC pedals and others prefer SPD pedals. Going clipless (Time ATAC or SPD) allows you to hop with your bike, and using platform pedals does not. I started on platforms but quickly switched to clipless so that I could hop around.
Handlebars are typically straight bars or riser bars and are generally cut short to allow you to swing your mallet without hitting your bars. Also to allow you to fit into tighter spaces.
A big part of the fun is tweaking and customizing your ride. You'll try things and keep what works and replace what doesn't.

i know they take some trash talking... but i just built up an Eight Inch Butcher for a guy in our club.
Bone stock, from Wheel and Sprocket Outlet, it was $549 shipped. You can pick your gear ratio, comes with dialed 3pc cranks, strong sealed wheels, and decent geometry.
its a super solid polo bike for someone who's not quite ready to build an all out custom, or drop a grand.

I always recommend staying away from the sub-$350 'track' bike because after you change the gearing and brakes, and bars you're already paying more than something better.

agile for my size.

i should add that WSOutlet was also willing to swap out the front fork for an All City Dropout fork with 990's. they're super helpful

agile for my size.

For that matter, many a great polo player cut their teeth on the Eighth Inch Scrambler.

I bet you could get them to build you a more polo-ready complete for dirty cheap.

Legalize Hand Throws - 2014

no one's mentioned the VeloLucuma?!?!?!

I did look at Velo Lucuma but I'm not entirely comfortable with buying a bike that I can't try out before buying it. Do you have experience with riding a Velo Lucuma?

Dude who sits next to me at work bought a fat bike frame from him. The frame is worth the price, but the guy did not include fender mounts as agreed. Honest mistake - but when you wait that long for a custom ordered bike and shipping from South America.. you want it to be as you asked/paid for. The guy was very understanding and accomodating, they worked something out - but my buddy did not get the fender mounts. I believe he was offered an appropriate rebate/refund, or he could've sent it back to have it done right but that meant more shipping and waiting, so he went with the $$$ instead.

I know that doesn't help with your question regarding riding an actual Velo Lucuma polo bike, but thought I could at least speak on the subject of whether or not the guy does good work, etc.

I did recently play in a tourney against a gentleman from Lafayette, Indiana who rode a Velo Lucuma polo bike. It seemed to handle well and looked cool enough.

But really, I would listen to the guy from Seattle who suggested you get a Pake Rum Runner frame for $175 and add the fork you want. That option costs less than the Velo Lucuma and takes far less time to receive. Ben Mattox from Chicago plays on that frame and he's quite good. His bike is not holding him back at all from what I can tell.

the issue is going to be, you can't really try out ANY of the purpose built polo bikes. it's whats held me off for so long. sure i can ride my friends bikes, but theyre all a little shorter, etc. but being new to the game, get a cheap track frame or mtb and go from there. like everyone said, you'll learn what you like and what you want and see what limitations are brought by the bike, and then you can look for way's to remedy them.

stay away from trick-track bikes, polo bikes they aren't

Many a great player plays on this:


Frame only for $175 and buy a disk fork for another 100-150. These things are rock solid, cheap, and just about the perfect geometry you're looking for (if you're going 700c that is).

Get yourself a set of eighthinch julians or some velocity deep-vs (see how easy it was to play nice, guys?) and you'll be set!

If you aren't sinning, Jesus died for nothing.

Mark Davis wrote:

Get yourself a set of eighthinch julians or some velocity deep-vs (see how easy it was to play nice, guys?) and you'll be set!

Hatfield v McCoy product feuds invading LoBP everywhere!

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

Get an early 90's mountain bike that fits you off of craigslist or similar site, wheels from that era take a licking. A decent bike from a major manufacturer (not a huffy, murray, ect.) from that time period will cost you $50-100, take the front derailleur and shifter off, put both your brake levers on your steering hand side of the bar, put some wheel covers on and play. You will learn what you like and don't like as you play and can plan your $1000 polo bike after you have a year under your belt. Good luck.

you betta bring the Heat!

I know them feels. I play on a 2002 Specialized Hard Rock that I've put a lot of love into making it into a polo bike. Now I'm realizing that I've out grown it, and it's time to move on to a bike better suited for polo. But it WAS a great way to learn polo.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

Seconded. An old, rigid folk MTB is the best starter bike for polo.

What about your own "body geometry"? I for one am quite curious about the choice of bike set up vis-a-vis specific morphology. For example, I ride a Scrambler size 55 which is perhaps a little too small but other than having to get a very steep stem to compensate for the ridiculously short steerer tube that came with the fork the geometry feels "perfect". To compare the geo of the bike to the rider I would say I'm 6', 140lbs with that weight pretty evenly spread vertically from foot to head. The distance from my hip joint to ankle is shorter than hip joint to shoulder joint. Shoulder to wrist is the same as shoulder to hip. The short cockpit/upright riding position seems to suit me. I have heard people express a dislike for such a set up. I play with some people who like a long top tube - short seat tube arrangement. Do you like to play stretched out along the top tube, or sitting way back over the seat, or "sit up and beg" on the front of your seat?

The Scrambler is cheap and useful if it's geo suits you. Dual callipers are acceptable but getting v-brake bosses welded on is better and possible (depending on locale) although I noticed the seat stays on mine have bent a little after using dual brake setup. I ditched dual brakes a while ago and now I use front brake only. The front fork does buck and shudder with v-brakes under heavy braking and if I could find a disc fork of the same geo I would use it.